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Why GORUCK Matters to Me – by Joe

The community around GORUCK is pretty amazing. In fact, I wrote about it on the GORUCK.com blog recently. I am always amazed at the impact that this company has made in the lives of people and from time to time stories come across my path that showcases the impact that GORUCK has.

One such story showed up recently in the GORUCK Tough group on Facebook. In it, Joe shares some about his life, a terrifying incident, and how GORUCK played a role in helping prepare him to react. I asked Joe if he was willing to share his story with a wider audience and he agreed.

Here is Joe’s story.

This past week my wife, son, and I traveled to Myrtle Beach for the Battle of Baghdad Light event. We came to town early to spend some time with friends, and to let our son enjoy the beach. So Thursday we arrive early enough to hit the beach for a bit. As soon as we get on the sand, my son does what all 10 yr olds do, he hit the water. Now us adults held back and talked for a bit. On this day I had no plans to get in the water, my wife doesn’t ever get in the water, she can swim, she just doesn’t like not knowing what’s beneath her.

Before I can move forward let me say this. I grew up surfing this same spot. I’ve surfed from Maryland to Florida. I have always been around tides, currents and the like. I have also been part of many rescue operations in and out of water. I have extensive water training, as well as military training and real world shit shows where lives were at stake. I thrive in these situations whether under direct fires in Iraq or on the street at a fire or car wreck. However, I haven’t been in those environments for about 10 yrs or more.

Anyway back to my sharing.

So my son is in the water, my wife is looking for sharks teeth, and I’m with our friends talking. All of us were watching my son swim. I was busy talking, and I had confidence in my son. I wasn’t too worried about him, as he has always been very good at not going out too far.

Well, all that changed really quick.

Ya see there was a vicious undertow going on, right at peak high tide, that I had not paid attention to or felt because I had not been in the water. All of a sudden, at the same time, my wife and I realized something with our son just wasn’t right. Then my buddy said, “Hey man, is he ok?”

As it turns out he wasn’t, he was caught in the undertow and was being pulled out away from the beach. My wife started running into the water, as did I. My wife hit the surf first and I was close behind. I dove past her, under the wave, when I surfaced I could see my son. He wasn’t panicking, but the look on his face said it all. He was in a desperate situation, and I quickly went into rescue mode. I knew I only had a short time before he went under, so I went as hard as I could.

Consequently, a set of waves came in at the same time, making my way out harder, and his journey out to sea quicker. All I knew was my 10 yr old son needed me or he was going to die. Just as I was about to get to him, a wave came, and as it crested, my son went up with it and all I could see was his face and hands. Then the wave was between us, I could no longer touch bottom, and as I dove under the wave I just asked God to let me see him when I resurfaced.

When I came up I saw him and was able to get to him before the next wave. He was relieved, but I didn’t have time to rest, I was winded, and still had to get us back to shore.

Eventually, we made it back to the beach, and all was ok. I was so terrified I could hardly speak. I hugged my son and my wife, but I had to hold it all in, for them. Later that night I did lose it, and I cried my eyes out. I didn’t sleep as all I could see was his face in the water. I was thankful for sure, but that was the first time I was that close to losing my son, and I couldn’t handle the thought of that. The magnitude of what had happened overcame me.

But here is the silver lining, and I give so much credit to being prepared to GORUCK.

Ya see I’m a combat veteran of two wars. I’ve fought in many places, see horrible things, and I’ve fought fires too many times to count, as well as cut people out of cars, rescued them, and was always at the front because I loved it!

Since 2013 I’ve dealt with some personal issues and struggles. So I did what I knew how to do. I lifted weights… at least for a little bit. I became stagnant. I missed the military, I missed the action. It showed in my life. I got bored. I became soft.

I can’t recall how I found GORUCK, but I did, and I started rucking. Last year, I decided to make a lifestyle change. I no longer wanted to be soft and stagnant, I wanted to be healthy, and prepared. I wanted to be lean, strong, and flexible. I wanted to be what the Cadre exude, especially Cadre Ragnar and Cadre DS. In this short time, I’ve gotten to know Ragnar more, I keep drinking GORUCK’S powerful kool-aid, and a year later, I am 17 lbs lighter and stronger.

Had I not chose to make a lifestyle change, my son would have died last week. I would have died last week. He would have gone under, and I would have drowned looking for him, or died by other means because I wouldn’t have been able to live knowing I failed him when he needed me the most.

I give credit where credit is due, and that goes to GORUCK, the community of GRTs for always pushing me, to Ragnar and DS, for inspiring me.

Living a better lifestyle, training, and pushing yourself isn’t always about you, it’s for those times when we need to act when a life is at stake.

Last week changed me and I will keep going as long as old injuries and God allow me to. I am happy to have found this crazy life of GORUCK, and what it has grown into.

Thank you for reading. I hope all is well in your world. Keep training, keep pushing, cause ya just never know…

Joe

Do something awesome this May: Ruck to Honor & Remember.
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